On Thursday evening, a woman was arrested for attempting to burn down the childhood home of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. with gasoline in Atlanta, Georgia. The attempt was caught on video, with many conservative commentators suggesting that it was an attempt to fake a hate crime and stoke racial tension.
The woman, 26-year-old Laneisha Shantrice Henderson, was caught on tape by two tourists from Utah who sprung into action and awaited the police. The authorities took Henderson into custody and charged her with a second-degree criminal attempt to commit arson and interference with government property. "That action saved an important part of American history tonight," Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said, per WSB-TV.
"Tonight, an unfortunate incident occurred at the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an individual attempted to set fire to this historic property," the King Center said. "Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful, thanks to the brave intervention of good Samaritans and the quick response of law enforcement. We thank the Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Fire Department, the National Parks Service, and Mayor Andre Dickens for leading the efforts to ensure the safety of our cherished national landmark and its adjacent neighbors. Our prayers are with the individual who allegedly committed this criminal act."
In response to the incident, some conservative commentators argued that, if successful, the arson would have been another George Floyd-like incident. "This was the media's planned Floyd-19 riot," wrote X/Twitter user Cernovich. "Black woman in ANTIFA garb tried burning it down. Media would have covered it wall to wall as white supremacist attack. Be vigilant. The hoaxes and agitprop are going to be on a totally different level in 2024."
"Someone tried to burn down MLK Jr's birth home last night. They were spotted by tourists and detained until the cops arrived, and arrested her: A black woman," wrote bestselling author John LeFevre. "Another fake hate crime that could've led to violent protests."
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